Benjamin Titan GP air rifle with Nitro Piston: Part 2

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Part 1

Benjamin Titan with Nitro Piston has people talking.

Lots of interest in this air rifle — even from those who normally wouldn’t look twice at a gun of this kind. I guess it’s the low price that has folks talking.

Today is velocity day and a chance to become better acquainted with the test rifle. If you just found this blog, read Part 1 linked above. A short introduction is that Nitro Piston is the Crosman-trademarked name for a gas spring. Performance of a gas spring is a bit different than for a conventional coiled steel mainspring, though in the end both are spring-piston airguns. A gas spring uses compressed gas instead of a coiled steel spring to push the piston that compresses the air for each shot. Gas doesn’t suffer from being compressed for long periods, so you can leave a gun like this cocked for months and the power should not be affected. That isn’t recommended for reasons of safety, but it does allow hunters to carry their rifle cocked and loaded all day. Gas is also less sensitive to temperature changes, so gas springs retain their power better in extreme cold, where the lubricants in steel spring guns thicken and slow down the piston.

This particular rifle has lower power than most gas spring guns, and as a result, is easier to cock. The test rifle requires 33 lbs. of force to cock, where a conventional gas spring gun is often closer to 50 lbs. Still, 33 lbs. is not light. It takes an adult hand to cock this rifle.

Crosman built this rifle for the Illinois airgun market that used to mandate a muzzle velocity of less than 700 f.p.s. That law was changed, so the guns that remain are being sold directly by Crosman. I bought one because I’m a fan of lower-powered gas spring airguns.

Velocity test
The first pellet tested was the one that was included in the package with the rifle — a 250-count tin of Crosman Destroyers. The Destroyer is a hollowpoint pellet with a pointed tip inserted in the center of the hollow point. They’re made of hardened lead and weigh 7.9 grains, nominally. This is a pellet I don’t believe I’ve ever tested, so I’ll be doing so within this test. I see the customer reviews of the pellet are all over the place, so they aren’t that helpful. I’ll test them for accuracy in this rifle; and if the accuracy seems to warrant it, perhaps also test it in my R8, which we all know to be a very accurate breakbarrel.

Crosman Destroyer pellets
Crosman Destroyer pellets are hollowpoints that also have a pointed tip.

Destroyers averaged 699 f.p.s. in the test rifle. They ranged from a low of 672 to a high of 722 f.p.s., so the spread was 50 f.p.s. That’s too high, but I think the rifle may need to break in a little to get rid of some excess oil in the compression chamber. Once it’s broken in, I think the average will be down around 685 because that was the direction the pellet seemed to be heading as I shot it. At the average velocity, this pellet produced 8.57 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

This pellet loaded tight in the breech. I’ll have more to say about that in a bit.

RWS Hobby
The RWS Hobby pellet is one of the lightest pure-lead pellets on the market. It’s always the one I use to test the top velocity of an airgun because it’s often very accurate as well as fast. That makes it a real-world pellet and not just a bragging-rights trick pellet that will only be used for velocity numbers. The Hobby is a wadcutter, so it’s also good for pest elimination at ranges below 25 yards.

Hobbys averaged 708 f.p.s. in this rifle. The range went from 696 to 722 f.p.s., so a spread of 26 f.p.s. With the Hobby, there was no trend toward lower velocities in the string of 10 shots, so I think the average is representative of what this gun will always do. At the average velocity, Hobbys produced 7.79 foot-pounds of energy at the muzzle.

Hobbys loaded even tighter than Destroyers. The back of the skirt stuck out no matter how hard I pushed it into the breech. However, closing the barrel did push the pellets flush without damaging the skirt.

Crosman Premier
The 7.9-grain Crosman Premier averaged 665 f.p.s in the test rifle. The range went from 655 to 680 f.p.s., so a 25-foot-per-second spread. These pellets fit the breech very well and seated flush with the end of the barrel using finger pressure alone. At the average velocity, Premier lites produced 7.76 foot-pounds of muzzle energy.

A pellet-seating experiment
I’ve mentioned that two of the three pellets tried were hard to seat because they were tight in the breech. I thought it would be instructive, therefore, to conduct a little experiment to see how deep-seating them affected things. I guessed it would lower the average velocity, but it might also make the velocity spread a little tighter.

I chose RWS Hobby pellets for this test because they were the tightest in the breech. Using the adjustable pellet seating tool that comes with the Pellet Pen and PellSet, I seated each Hobby pellet about 1/16 inch into the breech. The average when seated this way was 686 f.p.s., compared to the 708 f.p.s. when seated by finger pressure alone. The range went from 678 to 691 f.p.s. — a spread of 13 f.p.s., compared to the 26 f.p.s. spread for the finger-seated pellets. I think this result is interesting enough to warrant a special test during the big accuracy test that comes next.

Although the trigger still has a long pull and buckets of creep, it releases at a pretty nice 4 lbs. on the money. If I can shoot with discipline, it may not influence the accuracy as much as I originally feared.

Observations thus far
Well, the rifle is harder to cock than I originally thought. I thought it was just me getting weaker, but apparently I’m still able to cock a springer — this one just takes more than I think it should for the power it delivers. Ed Schultz of Crosman told me when I tested the Benjamin Legacy with Nitro Piston in .22 caliber that they were never able to get a .177 to shoot and behave as well as the .22. That must have something to do with the smaller bore diameter, but what it might be I have no idea. If true, it suggests that a .25-caliber low-velocity breakbarrel with Nitro Piston might be the nicest airgun of all, though I doubt we’ll ever see one.

The firing behavior of this rifle is very nice. It fires with just a small forward jolt and no vibration to speak of, though I did need to tighten all the stock screws once during the test.

The velocity is bang-on the advertised speed. It didn’t take any trick pellets to achieve it, either. The velocity is in a very nice place for accuracy, and the smooth behavior of the rifle can’t do anything but help it achieve its absolute best. So, I’m expecting good things on accuracy day.

Benjamin Titan GP air rifle with Nitro Piston: Part 1

by Tom Gaylord, a.k.a. B.B. Pelletier

Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston breakbarrel air rifle

Benjamin Titan GP Nitro Piston breakbarrel puts .177 pellets out at up to 695 f.p.s.

This is a special report about an air rifle that can only be purchased directly from Crosman/Benjamin. It’s a Nitro Piston rifle, which is Crosman’s trademarked name for their gas spring, and this rifle has been limited to velocities under 695 f.p.s. The box says it’s a hunting air rifle, but I wouldn’t recommend it for that.

When one of our readers mentioned that this gun existed, I became excited because I liked the performance of the Crosman Titan GP (Lower Velocity). I did a complete report on the lower velocity Titan GP in .22 caliber. It was relatively easy to cock (for a gun with a gas spring) and had a wonderful firing behavior. It was also reasonably accurate. Those are all the things we look for in spring guns, so at the time I wondered if Crosman would ever release a .177 version of the rifle.

The gun I’m testing for you today is that airgun — a .177-caliber Titan GP with Nitro Piston that has been limited to no more than 695 f.p.s. for Illinois state law compliance. (That law has since been lifted, so these guns are being sold off by Crosman.) This is what I have been asking for, for a long time. Now I have the opportunity to test one and see what it can do.

The rifle
The Titan GP is a breakbarrel spring rifle that has a Nitro Piston gas spring in place of a conventional coiled steel mainspring. That does several things for the gun. First, it lightens it by close to a pound. This test rifle weighs 8 lbs., 2 oz. with the scope mounted. I weighed it that way because there are no other sights, and the scope is essential. That puts this right in the medium weight range for a springer.

Next, the Nitro Piston makes the gun cock differently, and this is why I’ve been wanting a lower-powered .177-caliber gas spring gun to test. Conventional gas spring rifles are all hard to cock because the full force of the gas is encountered at the start of the cocking stroke — when the cocking linkage provides the least amount of mechanical advantage. When a gas spring gun cocks with 35 lbs. of force, it feels like 50 because of how difficult it is in the beginning. But the test rifle is set to deliver much lower power, which means the Nitro Piston in this rifle doesn’t require as much effort to cock. That turns out to be a great advantage when you actually use the gun.

The Titan GP has an articulated cocking link, so the cocking slot in the stock is shorter than it would have to be if the link was one piece. That helps with vibration, as well, since there’s more solid wood in the stock. I also notice the pivot bolt is slotted. That means the owner can adjust the pivot tension as required. That’s a wonderful feature, especially on a gun for this price.

The rifle is housed in a hardwood stock that’s finished with a dull sheen. The wood is not too carefully shaped, and you can see evidence of power tools used to do the shaping here and there. The wood has a very tight grain that doesn’t stand out in any way. The stock is a stylized thumbhole that I don’t care for because you’re forced to keep the thumb of your shooting hand wrapped around the pistol grip instead of along the side of the stock. It’s a clumsy feeling for me; but if you aren’t used to the older way of holding a rifle stock, it may suit you fine. I know that thumbhole stocks do have a lot of proponents.

The stock isn’t too thick through either the wrist or the forearm. It feels about the same as a Beeman R9, which is a medium-sized spring rifle.

The metal parts are finished to a dull sheen, also. They’re uniform and give the rifle the look of a hunting gun.

This is a full-sized rifle, if not a heavy one. The barrel, including the muzzlebrake, measures 18-7/8 inches long, and the overall length is 43-7/8 inches. The pull is 13-7/8 inches long.

There are no sights, so this one is meant to be scoped. Indeed a basic Centerpoint 4×32 scope and mount comes packed with it. I mounted the scope immediately because it’s the only way to sight when shooting.

So the story is — here’s a lower-powered .177 breakbarrel air rifle with a gas spring. Oh, and Crosman is selling them directly for just $71! There — have I got your attention? That was what also attracted me when our reader pointed it out. This is not a magnum springer that doubles as a portable gym. It’s a tractable, lightweight .177 rifle that could be used for plinking if you like, and as far as I’m concerned there are not enough of those on the market today.

The trigger on this rifle is supposed to be adjustable for the length of the second-stage pull via a screw located behind the trigger blade. Well, I turned that screw in both directions a LOT and nothing happened. The second-stage pull is extremely long and creepy and will have an effect on accuracy, I’m sure.

There is a safety, and I’m glad to report that it is manual. Take it off and shoot the rifle without worrying about the safety every time the gun is cocked. That’s a huge plus, in my opinion.

I have questions
First, is this rifle a suitable first air rifle? If this test proves out then it will be strong support that the market needs more rifles like this.

Second, can this rifle be accurate with the trigger that’s on it? The pull is so long, heavy and creepy that I really don’t think it can, but that’s what this test will discover.

Observations so far
I was very curious about the firing behavior of this rifle; so, as soon as it arrived, I took it out of the box and shot it several times. So far, I can tell you that it does cock easily, though not as easily as a Bronco. But for a gas spring, this is about as easy as they get.

The firing behavior is very smooth, although the rifle does lunge forward quickly at the end of the shot. Of course that is the case with all gas-spring powerplants, but this one lacks the slide-hammer effect of too much power.

The scope appears to be pretty nice for what it is. I find myself comparing it to a vintage American-made Leupold M8 scope I have that is also 4X, and this one is coming out okay.

Every so often there are deals that pop up for a while. I have made you aware of some of them in this blog, and I think the test rifle might be another one. I will therefore put it on the fast track, so you can get in line if it proves to be good.